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“WORSE THAN A SCAB-PICKER” – Mar. 2

March 2, 2014

“For no one who has a blemish, shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.”  Leviticus 21:18-20

caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My last business trip involved an airplane ride to Sacramento, California.  I was acutely aware of all the engineering involved in the optimizing of economy class passenger seating.  I am not a particularly tall person but I am at the limit of the “design passenger” used to arrange seats on airliners.  My knees just fit within the space allotted.  However, I often feel as if my fellow traveling companion in front of me is in my lap when he reclines his seat.

caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

This was particularly awkward on my last flight.  The passenger ahead of me was a business man judging from his attire.  He had a nice business suit and leather briefcase.  He was attentively groomed with hair cut close enough to reveal his scalp.

His scalp became of particular interest to me about half way through our flight.  I became aware of a habitual hand motion to the back of his head.  Through the flight, he continued to reach to the back of his head with a scratch, pick, pinch and rub ritual.  Due to his short haircut, I could easily observe the source of his discomfort.

He had two massive zits at the base of his neck, just inside the hairline.  It was apparent that these twin mountains of acne had been bothering this polished business man for sometime since they both had thick scabs.  However, my traveling mate had no intention of allowing his sores to heal properly.

I squirmed in the limited confines of my seat each time I watched his hand reach back.  A couple picks around the edges and then would come the pinch and my real concerns.  With each pinch, I cursed the airplane designers for placing me in the splash zone of this man’s clogged pores.  Obviously, the scenario that I was experiencing was not accounted for in their calculation because if either of those inflamed cannons burst, my flight was going to get really bad.

Airplane seating

Fortunately, the flight mercifully ended without fluids erupting into the air or onto me.  The scab-picker stood from his seat and straightened his suit while he retrieved his briefcase from the overhead compartment.  He gave a pleasant glance in my direction, completely oblivious to the duress he had caused me.

He had no idea how gross he was.

I completely understand God’s prohibition of scab-pickers from the priesthood.

For no one who has a blemish, shall draw near, a man blind or lame, … or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.  (Leviticus 21:18-20)

I don’t know anything about the man who sat in front of me but I did find the blemishes on the back of his head and his chosen remedy very unclean.  I can understand why God would not want him to approach His altar.

However, I realized that I was equally disqualified by the very same passage.  Thankfully, my testicles are fine but my sight is not so good.  I have the blemish of nearsightedness.  While I might be able to argue that my blemish is not as bad as scab-picker’s blemish, I have to concede that at least his blemish will heal if he were to leave it alone. My eyesight is only going to get worse with age.  Therefore, I am forever disqualified from coming before God in my physical condition.

That is a rather shocking revelation.  God does not accept blemished people and it does not matter whether they were born with the blemish or if it was their own fault.  We live in a blemished world so I think it is difficult to understand God’s insistence upon perfection.  I don’t think any of us understand how blemished we really are in comparison to God.  Scab-picker did not know how blemished he was.  I had never really thought of nearsightedness as a disqualifying blemish.  Yet, the standards of God’s law are so exacting that no one is qualified to stand before the altar of God on their own merit.

Herein lays the good news of the Gospel.  Christ came to fulfill the standard for us.  He is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 2:2)  Christ is the sacrifice to God that takes away the enmity of our blemishes (sins) that stand between us and God.

We should never deny our blemishes because the glory of the Gospel comes from the reality that in Christ we are new creations, pure and blameless.

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling and questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…  (Philippians 2:13-15)

It is in Christ and Christ alone where we will be without blemishes.  It is only when we are blemish- free that we can enter our rest in the presence of the Lord.

Therefore, I don’t want to feel good about my blemishes.
I don’t want to be convinced that my blemishes can be overcome by thinking positively.
I refuse to live like my blemishes are irrelevant to God’s love.

My blemishes remind me of my need for a Savior.  My blemishes draw me close to my Lord, Jesus Christ because without him I am without hope.  I leave my blemishes at His feet, emerge, cleansed in His blood, and live in the joy and hope of a new life founded in Christ and Christ alone.

To God alone be all glory.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making me pure and blameless.  Thank you for cleansing me of all my blemishes.  Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to be my propitiation.  Thank you for making a way for me to come before your altar.  I praise and glorify your name for all that you have done for me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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6 comments

  1. Excellent read indeed! I really appreciate your interpretation! I receive it! We need Jesus because God insists on perfection.


  2. This is amazing! You had me belly-laughing with your descriptions of the scab picker. I was wondering where in the world you’d end up going with that. 😉 Your point is thought provoking and very humbling to ponder. Awesome post!


  3. Great read! You described your experience so well that I felt like I was right there on the plane. And a great encouragement from the Word as well! I just finished Exodus and starting Leviticus, and I’m amazed at how precise God’s instructions and commands were to the Israelites.


  4. I’ve always thought those verses harsh even in light of the old covenant. You gave new insight into their meaning.


  5. This is very eye-opening. My own physical blemishes caused me trouble in the world for years. I was into my 40s, more than likely, when things stopped being an issue for someone in the world.

    I recently read this portion of Scripture as I’m currently going right through the Bible. To see your page brings a lot home to me. More than ever, the fact that Christ has also saved me from everything. Including blemishes. For ever. Thank God.

    Thank you for sharing, and should you have to fly again, may your trip be far more comfortable, 🙂


  6. good read…although I must admit I did a little squirming in my seat as I imagined the squirming you did on the flight. My uncomfortable feeling really brings home the point you made so well in this post…thanks!



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